Bluetooth is not dead

3 flavorsl

You already know Bluetooth. It’s a nice wireless technology that allows you to connect your phone with your wireless headset or your car’s hands-free speaker systems and be cool. However things are changing and so is Bluetooth.

The new version of Bluetooth is called Bluetooth Smart. It is already being used in fitness devices, including Fitbit’s Force and Nike’s latest FuelBand, to help track users’ physical activity. It is also the core of Apple’s AirDrop feature from iOS 7. It allows iOS users to transfer photos and other files to nearby users of other Apple products.

Future uses for Bluetooth Smart will enhance mHealth, mPayment, and smart home services. According to Gartner analyst Mark Hung, it will “change the perception of Bluetooth and what it can be used for”.

The key innovation with Bluetooth Smart is that it uses very little energy. The new technology allows devices to run for weeks without needing a recharge and to send bursts of data while consuming very little power. This is a huge improvement, since it was hard to keep your cell phone’s bluetooth on for battery reasons. The very little energy use makes it smart, and a good fit for health and fitness devices. Data can be collected from these devices and be transferred to a phone in order to be processed.

One key factor regarding Bluetooth Smart is the industry’s support. Apple integrated the technology into iOS two years ago. Microsoft built support for it into Windows 8, which the company released last year. And this summer, Google added support for Bluetooth Smart to Android.

In addition to health and fitness uses, Bluetooth Smart is also starting to be used as an invisible beacon. When an iPhone makes an AirDrop file transfer, it uses Bluetooth Smart to find other nearby devices and to create secure one-to-one connection. Similarly, the Bluetooth signal can be used to identify an individual phone user for the purpose of making a payment or sending a marketing message.

Bluetooth Smart could also have a future in the smart home. It’s already being used in some remote controls, allowing users to change channels or turn on equipment even when it’s hidden in cabinets, something they can’t do with old-style infrared remotes. And the Kwikset lock could trigger a wave of broader use of Bluetooth in home automation devices.

It all sounds great, it has the support from companies and it is able to do some very interesting things. Now let’s see how it goes. When it was developed, 20 years ago, it was supposed to do a lot more than what it did during the last 20 years.  We hope now things go better for our friend Bluetooth. We kind of like him.

What do you think?

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